Spotlight is on diagnosis May 30th for this year’s World MS Day

Advocates say earlier is key to sooner treatment start, better outcomes

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by Mary Chapman |

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The focus is on diagnosis for this year’s World MS Day, officially “a day of global solidarity, collective action, and hope” for the multiple sclerosis (MS) community, according to a campaign webpage boasting information in more than 100 languages.

While the event officially occurs on May 30, activities have been taking place throughout the month, and will continue in early June. Globally, about 2.9 million live with MS, a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that can lead to impaired nerve function in the brain and spinal cord.

In addition to the general public, World MS Day seeks to heighten awareness of the condition among public authorities, policymakers, researchers, industry representatives, and health professionals.

“World MS Day is an international awareness day for everyone affected by multiple sclerosis (MS),” the webpage states. “It brings the global MS community together to share stories, raise awareness and campaign for change.”

Now in its 15th year, the event is organized by the MS International Federation (MSIF) in collaboration with an international group of member representatives — currently from the United States, Argentina, Australia, Greece, India, Kenya, Tunisia, Spain, and the United Kingdom. MS patients and caregivers may find support by continent or country.

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Tagline for World MS Day is ‘Navigating MS together’

The 2024-2025 theme for World MS Day is “diagnosis,” and the campaign’s name is My MS Diagnosis. In turn, the event’s tagline is “Navigating MS together.”

An early and accurate MS diagnosis is key to a sooner start to treatment, which tends to result in more favorable clinical outcomes. Because there is no single test that alone can diagnose MS, clinicians rely on physical and neurologic testing and a study of the individual’s medical history. Healthcare providers also seek to rule out other conditions that can cause symptoms that mimic MS.

However, in most countries globally (83%), potential patients experience issues— barriers to diagnosis — that prevent earlier MS diagnoses. Among such problems are a lack of awareness, limited access to medical experts and care facilities, and oftentimes a complex healthcare bureaucracy.

“The My MS Diagnosis campaign advocates for early and accurate diagnosis for everyone living with MS. It highlights the global barriers to diagnosing MS, raising awareness by sharing real stories and data,” the webpage states.

“We are calling for better MS training for healthcare professionals, new research, and clinical advancements in MS diagnosis. Together we are building informed, caring communities and systems that support people diagnosed with MS,” it adds.

The “My MS Diagnosis” theme is meant to be flexible and wide-ranging, giving supporters a number of ways to approach their observance of the awareness day. For example, participants may:

  • lobby decision makers to improve early and accurate diagnoses in MS
  • emphasize national and global barriers to diagnostic access
  • create informed, caring communities and systems for those diagnosed with the disease
  • share an experience of an MS diagnosis to raise awareness, with an aim to build solidarity
  • advocate for improved MS training and awareness among healthcare professionals
  • support new research and clinical advancements in MS diagnosis.

The MSIF is offering supporters a campaign Brand Handbook and a toolkit of resources available in English, Spanish, and Arabic, including campaign essentials such as MS diagnosis facts and ways to get involved in World MS Day.

Suggestions include sharing graphics and personalized posters online using the hashtags #MyMSDiagnosis and #WorldMSDay, and getting news coverage of the campaign or an event.

Patients are encouraged to share their diagnosis journeys on the World MS Day Map, which also charts supporter fundraisers and activities as well as garnering media stories. In addition, participants in the MS Heart Challenge, which involves the placement of “MS Hearts” to show solidarity with those affected by multiple sclerosis, are to upload heart photos to the map.

Another suggestion is participating in the Light Up the World initiative, in which landmarks and other structures are illuminated on May 30 as a statement of hope for the MS community.

Supporters also are invited to join the May 50K virtual event to help fund research to prevent, treat, and ultimately cure MS. Participants are asked to walk, run, or roll 50 km (about 31 miles) throughout May, wherever and whenever they wish.

“Do it yourself, find a friend or gather a team,” an event webpage states. “Every step or kilometer will take us closer to finding a cure for MS.”

Supporters are encouraged to follow World MS Day on Facebook for more global events and shareable diagnostic experiences.

Elsewhere, the nonprofit MS Australia is also encouraging participation in the annual effort, including by highlighting the 2024 global campaign video about MS diagnosis.